Should the Commissioner of Taxation resign?
If Michael D’Ascenzo, the Commissioner of Taxation in Australia, were to reveal details about a taxpayer’s affairs he would resign or be forced to resign.
Indeed the Tax Office takes its responsibilities so strictly that unauthorised access to taxpayers’ records by ATO staff will see various sanctions imposed, up to and including the sack.
Yet this cone of silence apparently does not apply to discussing former employees. Here is what the Commissioner said about me in an interview last week with Il Globo recently.
A former assistant commissioner, John Passant, recently described the office as dominated by people who were too old and hostage to a “detail fetish” where they should be thinking big. “Why do you think John’s a former assistant commissioner?”, D’Ascenzo asks abruptly. So, there’s no gap in the ATO’s ability to plan for the challenges of tomorrow? “No.” Simple as that.
Me thinks Michael was annoyed and when he gets cranky he can snap without thinking things through. (One hint for ATO staff and others: a risky but sometimes rewarding tactic can be to provoke him.)
Anyway, I’m not quite sure what Michael meant, but it hangs in the air like a bad smell, doesn’t it?
Presumably I was too old at 54. I agree – I had been aged by the constant narrow minded crap that passes for leadership in the ATO.
How many audits/rulings/phone calls [fill in the appropriate activity] have you mere underlings done today? Is that all? Do more.
It was Peter Shergold, former head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet,who said that an organisation obsessed with process was moribund. The ATO is obsessed with process.
As Lenin discovered Taylorism is a complete disaster when used to manage workers. Far better outcomes arise when you create an environment of inclusiveness and democratic decision making.
As to vision – hmmm… It was Paul Keating who said that John Howard had all the vision of Mr Magoo.
The ATO is very much a John Howard organisation.
As my former employer the Commissioner knows my circumstances – age, name, serial number etc. But why is that appropriate for public consumption and debate?
And why try to rebut my arguments with ad hominem attacks?
Actually Michael’s response just reinforces my point – the ATO values diversity as long as you don’t disagree with the Dear Leader and his courtiers.
If I were the CPSU – the public servants’ union – I’d be worried about this. What are the boundaries when an employer reveals details about employees and former employees? Do employees and former employees have a right to privacy?
I don’t think the Commissioner should resign. I am just a shit kicker, not a multi-national with access to the Commissioner and the Prime Minister or other people temporarily in positions of power. So my position is one of powerlessness.
But even in our undemocratic society the propaganda is that positions of power flow ultimately from shit kickers like me.
Michael’s actions in positioning the ATO to deal with the Great Recession will allow us to make a real judgement of his character and leadership.
Let history judge him.